Biz Stone, accidental Jelly CEO

The former Twitter exec said his latest venture was never meant to be a company.

Jennifer Van Grove Former Senior Writer / News
Jennifer Van Grove covered the social beat for CNET. She loves Boo the dog, CrossFit, and eating vegan. Her jokes are often in poor taste, but her articles are not.
Jennifer Van Grove
2 min read
Biz Stone, right, pictured with Jelly co-founder and CTO Ben Finkel. Jelly/Photo by Paige Green

Biz Stone, Twitter's most benign co-founder, never intended to be the chief executive of his newly launched venture, Jelly; it sort of just happened -- or so the creation story goes.

Launched two weeks ago, Jelly is an iPhone and Android application that lets people post photos to get answers to questions. The photo query goes out to a person's Twitter and Facebook friends, who will, in theory, have the answer or try to solicit help from someone else in the know. The app is the reincarnation of Aardvark, a question-and-answer service that Google bought and then shut down, or Quora with a picture twist, though the company considers itself a search engine.

Stone, the soft-spoken Jelly CEO and former Twitter exec, said, in a Tuesday interview with Bloomberg, that he stumbled onto the idea for the app and semi-reluctantly accepted the role of CEO.

"I did it by accident. I didn't mean to do this," Stone said. "My friend Ben Finkel and I were going on a walk and we accidentally asked ourselves the question, what would we build if we had to build something that can answer any question -- and that led us to mobile, that led us to social, and all of sudden we had this idea on our hands that we thought we had to do."

Even with the idea taking shape, Stone said he still wasn't really thinking of turning Jelly into a company.

The fact that I have Kevin Thau at my back, that really made all the difference. We were talking before about how we didn't really intend to make this a company. In fact, I was telling Kevin Thau, one of my friends and trusted advisors, about the idea. And he just said, 'I'm in.' And I thought he meant he likes the idea. And then I went to dinner at his house and he said 'hey, Biz -- Jelly, I'm in.' I said, what does that mean? Is that something the kids are saying? He said, no, I want to do this. So once he decided to come on board, that's when really I said, well with your help, I think I can make a good CEO.

It's too early to tell if Jelly has legs -- or tentacles, rather -- but Stone's venture will be closely followed by those curious to see if he can hatch something as successful as Twitter.

The first part of Stone's video interview with Bloomberg is embedded below.